Trump Being Trump: General Election Style (Week 9)

Last week was a HORRIBLE one for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump thus won by default, but he also made some minor errors he’ll have to be aware of in the future to not commit again.

The Ambiguously Gay Duo

The week began with a rally with Hillary Clinton and her new “attack dog,” as the media calls her, Elizabeth Warren, who “ripped into Trump.”

I’ll give credit where it’s due. Elizabeth Warren did have a good attack on Donald Trump by calling out how he often talks negatively about offshoring, but does the same thing when it comes to manufacturing his suits and ties. This sets a frame of hypocrisy, and that’s always good when you want to influence your prospect to see your opponent in a negative fashion. Humans have a deep-seated need to see themselves as being consistent, as appearing inconsistent can create cognitive dissonance, and that’s a great state to put someone in when you want to influence him.

And yet…nonverbal communication is always more important than the actual words that leave your mouth, and Elizabeth Warren’s nonverbal communications skills are awful. Her vocal cues and body language are just so…awkward. I’ve heard her described by a lot of people as “that annoying English teacher you had in 7th grade and secretly did your best to piss off.” And the more you see her, the more you see the power of Donald Trump’s “goofy” moniker – because it fits her to the last dotted i and crossed t.

You see goofy? I see goofy.

Elizabeth Warren needs to read Stumped’s fourth chapter, which tells how you can improve your body language and vocal cues. Of course, her appearance is itself goofy, so she needs to change that too.

There’s major talk that Hillary Clinton will choose Elizabeth Warren as her VP, largely in order to pacify the far left of the Democratic Party, which largely distrusts her, and shore up her support with Bernie Sanders’ fans.

While I don’t expect this, the idea is…awkward because Elizabeth Warren lacks the communications skills that Bernie Sanders has. She also lacks his marketing and persuasion finesse. She affirmed Donald Trump’s linguistic kill shot by buying into his goofy frame, talking about how he called her goofy and then called his hats goofy. This isn’t agree and amplify. It’s basically “I’m rubber and you’re glue.” Elizabeth Warren is strangely enough charismatic to a lot of people – probably because of her inherently contradictory character as a “goofus” that fights hard. This, however, won’t be enough to help Hillary Clinton, and it’s all made worse by the fact that Elizabeth Warren has harshly criticized Hillary Clinton in the past, which is of course the exact same hypocrisy scenario mentioned above.

If I’m Donald Trump, I’m praying that Hillary Clinton chooses goofy Elizabeth Warren as her VP. Maybe that’s a reason he’s seemed relatively weak, strategically, in the past few weeks. Perhaps he’s playing possum.

Result: Victory

The Trade Speech

Donald Trump had a major speech of his own this week, when he delivered an address on trade in a crucial state that’s been hit hard by it over the past few decades, Pennsylvania.

The speech was a teleprompter one, and it’s obvious that Donald Trump is improving in his communications skills when using one, and rapidly. Still however, I think that his skills still need to improve, namely, that his voice tone needs to keep from being abrasive in these major speeches, as that creates fear.

The content of the speech was good, and it had the appearance of detailing a lot of policy specifics that people have been asking about, which is important.

And yet, Donald Trump did this speech with the backdrop of what was basically a trash pile, gutting its effectiveness. I understand he chose to have this event at an aluminum factory, which was a good setting, but the visual of the backdrop just wasn’t a good one, since it can be and was used as a meme against him.

The terrorist attack in Istanbul diverted attention away from that, but he needs to be careful in the future not to do anything like that again. It is also arguable that Trump’s speech could backfire because it could trigger fears of a “trade war,” but I bet against that for now. Most people in the rust belt have been hammered by these trade deals, and they don’t give a fuck about something abstract like a “trade war.” In their point of view, as Donald Trump expertly remarked, “we’ve been in a trade war, and we’ve been losing it.”

Result: Victory

Donald Trump aluminum factory Pennsylvania general election

Istanbul & Bangladesh Attacks

This week saw two major terrorist attacks, one in Turkey and one in Bangladesh. Because these attacks didn’t occur on Western soil (though technically, Istanbul is in Europe, we don’t think of it so much because it’s Turkish territory), their persuasion value wasn’t as high as Paris or Orlando, but it does add more punches to the steady barrage of the issue of terrorism.

This issue is still murky regarding who it favors. The Real Clear Politics polling average saw a gap increase between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the two weeks after Orlando, before now beginning to narrow. At the same time, the polls generally show that Donald Trump is seen by the public as being better on handling ISIS than Hillary Clinton.

These attacks will certainly continue, and I wouldn’t bet against at least one more happening on North American or European soil prior to Election Day. Still however the results are…

Inconclusive

Hillary Eats Word Salad

Somewhere in this video, Hillary Clinton went on a rant filled with SJW buzzwords against Donald Trump, reading them off as on a list and making no sense. Sorry for not being able to deliver the soundbite. You have my sympathies if you try to fish around for it in there. This politically correct language policing is, of course, one of the things that currently gives Donald Trump so much power, because he’s a symbol of rebellion against it. Good job, hag. It only gets worse for her from here.

Result: Victory

He Really, Really, Really Doesn’t Want Her to Win

The bombshell of the week was that Bill Clinton had a private meeting with Loretta Lynch, the attorney general. The two spent thirty minutes together on a plane. This was, of course, the woman who would ultimately decide the fate of his wife and whether or not to indict her as per the criminal investigation taking place with her ongoing email scandal. Fuel was added to the fire when Lynch mentioned that she and Bill talked about golf and grandchildren. This had the appearance of insulting the public’s intelligence, and appearance is reality in the world of power and persuasion.

This came on top of new polls showing that Hillary Clinton is seen as being amongst the most corrupt candidates ever to seek the office of president. Now a little more confirmation bias comes in on her most vulnerable issue. Donald Trump, of course, was quick to throw some rapid fire A/B testing to see what would get the most traction for his upcoming rallies and media appearances:

Donald Trump A/B Testing

“Does anyone believe that was just a coincidence?”is, of course, a question. The human brain has a burning hatred for incomplete information, so his question now prompts his audience to try to figure out answers, inventing scenarios in their heads about this meeting and making it seem worse by default. He has invited his audience to convince themselves that this was a terrible thing, which is far more powerful than talking about it yourself. “Rigged system” is also a linguistic kill shot that’s worked wonders for him in the past, both as the candidate of the popular revolt, and also because it basically, to quote Scott Adams, “gives him two ways to win.” If Hillary doesn’t get indicted, that’s because of the “rigged system,” which Donald Trump is doing his best to destroy. If Hillary gets indicted, no one remembers these tweets or quips and Trump wins anyway.

Now read that paragraph again. Ask yourself if it’s a coincidence that the question-kill shot tweet got the most engagement.

Stumped goes into great detail about the power questions and incomplete information have in influencing people, based on the brain’s reticular activating system.

Result: Victory (potentially decisive)

The Interview

Hillary Clinton had an interview with the FBI this week over her ongoing email scandal. Add some more confirmation bias to the corruption tapestry.

Result: Victory (potentially decisive)

The Benghazi Zombie Will Not Rest

More reports about what went down in Benghazi came out this week. Though I don’t think Benghazi itself will be enough to derail Hillary, just because it’s years old and most people have a set idea about it, in the context of the rest of the bad news about her this week, its already negative imagery will take on greater power.

Result: Victory

Things weren’t entirely good for Trump, however. There were some minor speedbumps.

The Other Rorschach Test:

Look at this tweet. What do you see?

Crooked Corrupt Hillary Star of David

Apparently, a lot of people got triggered because it’s apparently a Star of David, and that star superimposed over money with the word “corruption” is some kind of code for antisemitism.

Of course, the fact that the six-pointed star is a basic image in Microsoft Paint and one I could have made in seconds got glossed over. That doesn’t matter. To a lot of people, that image was an anti-Semitic calling code because “Donald Trump is a crazy racist.

Now, the outrage did get a lot of people to tweet that image and share the message that “Hillary is corrupt,” so it did serve a purpose. You can always count on SJW’s and the liberal media to be your unpaid communications team if you get them outraged.

At the same time, it could create more confirmation bias that Donald Trump is indeed a “crazy racist,” which is what he needs to shake (a la Scott Adams), and attention will likely be drawn to the star than to the message underneath it, which is bad news. On the other hand, a lot of people, particularly in key states like Pennsylvania, probably care more about Hillary Clinton being corrupt than about some image that someone says kind of looks like a Star of David. We’ll see.

Result: Inconclusive

The Mexican Plane

At one of Donald Trump’s rallies last week, he made a humorous remark that a low flying plane was sent by Mexico to disrupt the rally. Although this was a typical humorous and off the cuff quip that you’d find at any social event, they’re not a good idea when you’re trying to make people less afraid of you, because it’s all too easy for the media to stir fears that you’ll increase tensions with Mexico if your name is Donald Trump.

No one will remember this by next week, of course. Most people don’t even remember it now or haven’t heard it in the first place. Still, it’s a type of categorical thing which could wind up hurting him. He’ll need to take these little things into account in the future.

Result: Minor Defeat

New Polls

A few new polls came out this week showing good things for Trump, as the gap between him and Hillary Clinton has narrowed. I expect it to narrow further once this week’s fallout for Hillary Clinton reveals itself.

Result: Victory

Veepstakes

The most important news this week for Trump by far was some information that came to light regarding his potential running mates. The two names that were said to be mentioned most often were Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich, two very high-profile Trump allies.

Both of these are terrible choices.

For most candidates, the choice of a vice president doesn’t matter. It’s unlikely to move polls upward. Although a particularly egregious choice can seriously damage you (think Sarah Palin), for most, it’s a neutral thing. For Donald Trump, it is not. For Donald Trump, his choice of a vice president is crucial, and he needs his pick to do one thing and one thing only – make people less afraid of him. If he does not pick someone that makes people less afraid of him, I don’t think Donald Trump can win in November. It’s that important.

Balancing the ticket on geographical terms doesn’t matter. Having someone that’s charismatic or that can work a crowd and excite the base doesn’t matter either. Donald Trump can do both of those things himself. In fact, if you’re in Trump’s position, you kind of want someone duller because it helps to calm people down. The only thing that matters is that you have someone that’s “not scary.” In my mind, you do that by meeting these three conditions, and all of them must be met:

  1. Donald Trump should pick a VP that has a good amount of governing experience and an impressive political resume. We can safely assume that this will be fulfilled because he has said repeatedly that he wants someone that can help him work with congress.
  2. The ideal VP candidate needs to be seen as a calm, rational, and steady hand who can be relied on to give Trump good advice and can turn him away from his worst instincts. All of these traits should be visible and immediately sensible.
  3. The ideal VP candidate should be someone that’s relatively fresh in the public mind. This provides less angles for attack as it is less prone to confirmation bias. The candidate can more easily form his own image in the public’s mind.

Christie is a terrible choice because, although he comfortably fulfills condition #1, his “tell it like it is” style won’t be seen as a contrast to Donald Trump. In fact, it will reinforce his “scariness.” To make matters worse, Christie isn’t new in the public’s mind and his personal brand has already been destroyed by the bridge scandal. Therefore, “Crooked Hillary” will lose its effectiveness.

Newt Gingrich is a less bad choice, but still a bad one. He is obviously experienced at governing and is a very smart policy guy. He’s also generally very calm and even-handed. All of that is good. However, Newt Gingrich doesn’t fulfill condition #3. He’s well-known and a lot of people already have a negative opinion of him so he’s a glaring target for attack. He won’t be able to help remake the ticket.

Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, who endorsed Ted Cruz in its primary but only very tepidly, is meeting with Donald Trump this weekend. He could fit the bill. Jeff Sessions and Bob Corker do as well. Scott Brown fits it in some ways too, though his experience isn’t as great. All of these names have been floated.

In the end, I expect one of them, or someone we haven’t even heard was in the running, to get the nod before Christie or Gingrich. Donald Trump undoubtedly knows that maxim that Steven Pressfield elaborated on so brilliantly in The Virtues of War:

What we show the enemy, we will not do. What we don’t show the enemy, we will do.

I cite The Virtues of War often in Stumped, and we can see, in real-time, that some of its maxims, as part of Trump’s grand plan, are in play here. Read it to learn how to make foolproof plans like The Donald, and about all this other stuff you just read.